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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York



25 June 2004

Press Conference
25 June 2004

The Secretary-General: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming this morning. I know it is a bit early for some of us, but I am leaving this weekend for a long overseas trip, and I thought I should talk to you and answer your questions before I go.

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Thank you very much, and let me now take your questions.

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Question: A quick follow-up first on Warren’s question. Do you not - or do you - consider what’s going on in Darfur genocide, ethnic cleansing?

And my question is about the report by your Under-Secretary yesterday, Sir Kieran Prendergast, to the Security Council, in which he made very clear that the Israeli excesses continue, thousands of people are displaced, still demolition of homes, building of the barrier. The Egyptians are pressuring the Palestinian Authority, according to the meeting of the Quartet yesterday. What are you going to do beyond just another appeal and another … sort of like the Israelis, turning a blind eye to what you’re saying? And do you seek the US help on that, just like the Egyptians are pressuring the Palestinians?

The Secretary-General:
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With regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yes, I am aware of the demolitions and the desperate situation of the Palestinians who have lost their homes, and I know that from the reports I get from UNRWA how difficult their living conditions are. We - the Quartet - have engaged the Government, and in fact the envoys met recently and that is where they made the statement about the Egyptian and Jordanian efforts to assist the Palestinians. But that is more on the security side and restructuring of the security arrangements.

We are also looking at the whole question of withdrawal from Gaza and have indicated that if it is done in the context of the road map and is a total withdrawal from Gaza, to be followed by similar steps in the West Bank, it could re-energize the peace process. And we - the international community should be prepared to work with both parties to manage the withdrawal in order to avoid a situation where the withdrawal leads to even further chaos. In the meantime, the agencies on the ground – UNRWA and others – are doing as much as they can to give assistance and to give support.

But, of course, no one has condoned what has happened. I have spoken often. The European Union has done quite a lot. Governments have appealed to the Israeli Government to be careful not to harm the innocent.

Question: But, Sir, do you not have any other recourse? These are - as you said in many of your reports - violations of international humanitarian law and international law. So, is there no other recourse for you but to issue statements and go unnoticed? You are doing something on Darfur, and I hope you succeed in doing something about it. Why not dare go further on the Israeli violations of humanitarian law?

The Secretary-General: I think on this issue, first of all, we as a Quartet are working together to try and deal with the situation. When you ask, “go further and do …”, the two situations are quite different. I don’t think you can equate Darfur or the Sudanese situation with the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So I wouldn’t accept the comparison that you are making.

And you also know that we as a Quartet work as a team, and we need to get everybody on board for us to be able to move in the direction that we have to. I think our report of last month, on 4 May, gave you an indication of what the Quartet wants to do. You would want to see immediate action by the Quartet to either stop the demolition of the houses, and that is going to take the kind of action and will and resources and confrontation that, quite frankly, today I don’t see anybody on the international community willing to take. And you know that. And so - and I cannot, as Secretary-General, move in. I don’t have troops. I don’t have horses. And I don’t think the Governments are prepared to do the kind of thing that you are indicating.

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